Come the new year, millions of the lowest-wage workers across the country will get a raise.
Some of those raises will be very minor — a cost of living adjustment amounting to an extra nickel or dime an hour. But in several places the jump will be between $1 and $2 an hour.
Even that may not sound like a lot, but it can provide a full-time worker with another $40 to $80 a week. That money, in turn, can make it easier to pay for essential expenses, such as groceries, commuting and keeping the lights on.
All told, the minimum wage is set to rise in 21 states, at least 22 cities, four counties and one region. The majority of those increases will take place on Jan. 1, but in Maryland, Oregon and Washington, D.C., they go into effect in July. Meanwhile, the state of New York will be bumping up minimum pay on New Year’s Eve of this year.
The biggest minimum wage raises, percentage wise, will be in Arizona (up 24% to $10), Maine (up 20% to $9) and three Silicon Valley cities (up 20% to $12).
In the absence of action from Congress in terms of raising the federal minimum wage, which has remained at $7.25 since 2009, states and localities have taken matters into their own hands.
The increases were proposed by progressive politicians in state legislatures and on city councils. In instances where those measures failed, worker advocates would then petition to let voters decide directly. Such ballot measures have done remarkably well overall, accounting for the majority of increases taking place in 2017, according to The Fairness Project.
In the November election, four states (Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Washington) approved state minimum wage increases of between 43% and 60% over the next few years.
Those same worker advocates are up in arms about President-elect Trump’s nominee for Labor Secretary, fast food CEO Andrew Puzder, who is a critic of the movement to raise minimum wages to $15 or, at the federal level, to raise it to $10.10.
The Employment Policies Institute, a research group backed by the restaurant industry, has also been a critic of the Fight for $15 and the varied push for higher wages within states. The group often highlights when a small business closes or cuts staff as a result of a higher state or local minimum wage. And with the 2017 increases on tap, there will be a “mind-boggling patchwork” of minimum wages in New York (14) and California (13), the Institute noted.
But not all employer groups oppose higher wages for the lowest paid. Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, which is funded primarily by foundations and individual businesses, often notes the potential advantages of a higher minimum, including lower employee turnover and increased productivity.
Here’s where minimum wages will be in 2017 in the places where they’re set to rise:
Alaska – $9.80
Arizona – $10.00
Arkansas – $8.50
California – $10.00 for small employers; 10.50 for large employers
Colorado – $9.30
Connecticut – $10.10
Florida – $8.10
Hawaii – $9.25
Maine – $9.00
Maryland – $9.25 (as of July)
Massachusetts – $11.00
Michigan – $8.90
Missouri – $7.70
Montana – $8.15
New Jersey – $8.44
New York – Varies across state from $9.70 to $11 (as of 12/31/16)*
Ohio – $8.15
Oregon – $10.25 (as of July)
South Dakota – $8.65
Vermont – $10.00
Washington – $11.00
*The basic minimum wage is $9.70 in most of the state. But it’s higher for the fast food industry; Long Island; Westchester County; and large and small employers in New York City.
CITIES AND COUNTIES
In New York: New York City – $11.00 (as of 12/31/16); Long Island; and Westchester, NY – $10.00 (as of 12/31/16)
In California: Cupertino – $12.00; El Cerrito – $12.25; Los Altos – $12.00; Mountain View – $13.00; Oakland – $12.86; Palo Alto – $12.00; Richmond – $12.30; Sacramento – $10.50 (large employers); San Diego – $11.50; San Mateo – $12.00; San Jose – $10.50; Santa Clara – $11.10; Sunnyvale – $13.00
In District of Columbia: Washington, D.C. – $12.50 (as of July)
In Iowa: Johnson County – $10.10; Linn Country – $8.25; Wapello County – $8.20
In Maine: Portland – $10.68
In New Mexico: Albuquerque – $8.80; Bernalillo – $8.70; Las Cruces – $9.20
In Washington: Seattle – $15.00; SeaTac – $15.35; Tacoma – $11.15
Sources: The Fairness Project, Employment Policies Institute, National Employment Law Project, National Conference of State Legislatures, New York Department of Labor; California Department of Labor.